The Nightly Scream-a-thon

My son is crying himself to sleep. Correction: screaming. Screaming himself to sleep.

He’s been going through this phase lately, where he’s perfectly fine until I come into the room. Then he sees me, screws up his face, and turns on the faucet. Tears everywhere. I need Mom to hold me. I keep racking my brain to figure out if I’ve been  rewarding the wrong behaviors, but I usually only give him significant attention when he’s happy (or at least, calm enough to breathe normally).

I’m beginning to understand the term “crybaby,” and hoping he’ll grow out of it. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that most of us never really grow out of it; we just get a little more articulate.

Five-year-old: I need attention. I’ll pick a fight with a sibling, get hit, and whip up some tears.

Ten-year-old: I need attention. I’ll tell Mom and Dad all about the bully who picked on me at school.

Fifteen-year-old: I need attention. My life is in shambles. I don’t know who I am, what hair color I want, which gender I’m supposed to be, what my (chosen or biological) gender is supposed to be angry about, and my parents are ruining my life.

Twenty-year-old: I need attention. I’ll go post a vague status update on Facebook, with some song lyrics that may or may not be depressing/suicidal.

Thirty-five-year-old: I need attention. I’ll post something on Facebook about how overwhelming my kids are – but I’ll make it funny enough that people will stop to comment.

Fifty-year-old: I need attention. I’ll post pictures of my grandkids. People will tell me they’re adorable.

Seventy-year-old: I need attention. I’ll talk about my medical problems and brag about the days of yore.

We all do it. So here’s my takeaway question: is it really a problem? Is this a thing we’re supposed to get over entirely (and don’t), or is this really just something that’s supposed to change with time? I mean, I’d like to think I’m independent enough not to need validation from the world around me…

…but I am writing a blog. ♦


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